The New York Knicks will square off against the Boston Celtics in their preseason opener at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., on Wednesday night as the headliner among six preseason NBA contests.
The host Celtics aren't the same team that vied for Atlantic Division supremacy during the 2012-13 season. There are tempered expectations under first-year head coach Brad Stevens, and this new group led by Rajon Rondo is in transition, while the Knicks will return looking to settle unfinished business.
That's where last year's scoring champion Carmelo Anthony comes in. Now the unquestioned leader of the franchise, he will be the key to New York's championship aspirations. The Knicks lost some key shooters in Steve Novak and Chris Copeland, but they also return several players who enjoy taking looks from long range. Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert could continue to shoot three-pointers at a high rate or tone things down, and the answers will start to come to light on Wednesday.
On the other end, Boston will tackle the big question of whether or not Rondo can be a legitimate veteran leader among a group of relative youngsters. Before that, though, the most important question is whether or not he will return to his All-Star form after suffering a torn ACL last season. Additionally, there's always the possibility that Boston would consider trading him.
As always, there's no shortage of story lines with both of these teams.
Wednesday's full schedule is as follows (all times Eastern):
Knicks at Celtics, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV
CSKA Moscow at San Antonio Spurs, 8:30 p.m.